Gripes Archives

Blogging equals complaining, right?

Feeling Helpless about Homelessness

[After discovering a homeless person sleeping in our front yard this morning (the 3rd time this week), and having to call the police while rousing him, and having to clean up the mess he left behind, I decided to write an impassioned letter to San Francisco’s Mayor, Ed Lee, my district’s supervisor, Scott Weiner, and the Director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE), Bevan Dufty, expressing my frustrations and feelings of helplessness. Posting it here (with minor typographic corrections) for posterity.]

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· Gripes

Google-powered, reader-antagonistic, content-obscuring survey-ads: W-T-F?

I’ve seen something like this a few times on a dictionary website, where the text on the page has been replaced by gray boxes. There’s nothing more aggravating than looking up a word only to find the definition permanently obscured unless I interact with an ad. Merriam AND Webster must be rolling in their graves.

So you can only imagine my disappointment to find the bottom third of a local news article (that I had recently linked to) obscured in a similar manner. But what surprised me the most was to learn it was powered by Google! Really Google? Really!?

Here’s a screenshot of the survey in situ:

Google-powered, reader-antagonistic, content-obscuring survey-ads

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Hotel Wifi JavaScript Injection

So I’m checking my blog on the hotel wifi, like ya do, and I notice something a little off with the style. There’s a dark colored bar at the top of the page that shouldn’t be there. That’s funny. Maybe a recent Firefox update changed how they treat CSS?

Justinsomnia screenshot showing weird blue bar
Screenshot of Justinsomnia with weird bar circled in red

I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it, except my blog had recently been hacked (someone had gained elevated access to my web hosting account and prepended every single PHP file with a base64 encoded rootkit), so I immediately decided to view the source. Sure enough I saw some unfamiliar CSS and JavaScript that had been injected after the <head> tag (reformatted here for readability):

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Ubuntu Unity: Ugh

Ubuntu logoIn April, Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) shipped with a new window manager called Ubuntu Unity. I tried to like it, really I did! But it just kept getting in my way. The Launcher made it harder for me to figure out what applications were running, the Mac-esque disappearing Global Menus were painful when I had several windows side-by-side, and the Dash forced me to know in advance what program I was looking for (recall is harder than recognition). What worries me about disabling it outright is that the upcoming release of Ubuntu (Oneiric Ocelot) will apparently not offer the classic window manager at all. In the meantime, I made the following changes to have a workable and consistent environment.

Disable Ubuntu Unity

To revert to the classic look and feel, select “Ubuntu Classic” from the Session select box in the bottom panel before you enter your password to login. You’ll only need to do this once. If Ubuntu automatically logs you in, “Log Out” using the on/off button in the upper-right and follow the previous instructions.

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How to avoid a new cellphone contract

Recently my 4 year-old cellphone broke in half. Thus I was faced with two choices:

  1. start a new two-year contract, costing more per month than my current plan, to get a basic, albeit heavily-rebated cellphone
  2. buy the cellphone for its full MSRP of around $160

I kind of think of these as “taxes”. Carrier lock-in on one hand, or price-gouging on the other. Both of which I wanted to avoid. The guy at the Sprint store suggested that I check around Craigslist and eBay for someone selling their old phone.

Sure enough, someone on eBay was selling a Samsung A840 for $10 + $7 shipping. It was used, yes, and there’s always a risk that someone is selling stolen phones (though I’m guessing that’s more a problem with iPhones and Blackberries), but the seller, Legacy Wireless, seemed reputable. So for a mere $17, I got a new phone (well, new to me) without having to start a new contract.

Samsung A840, broken, and not broken